Thursday, December 31, 2009

Trawling Pornography Redux

To view the Trawling Halibut Destruction Wanton Waste Video please view archived blogs at the end of this page or click on the link:

Note: even though this video is dated 2004, remember, things have gotten only worse, more horsepower, bigger drags, more hammering the flats on the flats.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Inversely Proportional?

The International Pacific Halibut Commission points out that the halibut are getting smaller. They do not know why. One of my fellow Sea Lions pointed out that the decline in halibut stocks and average size is inversely proportional to the increase in trawler horsepower, net size, faster tow speed, and hull capacity. It can't be that easy, can it?

A Tholepin reader:
"If you look back over 100 years of halibut stock data, the one dip was caused by basically unregulated foreign trawling in the 1950s through the 1970s.

"The stocks rebounded in the early 1980s because we got tough on the foreigners. Now our own domestic trawlers are getting away with stuff that would have gotten the foreigners kicked out."

Keep yer flippers wet.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Death Rate for Halibut is Federally Guaranteed

Rearing its ugly head again, is the rampant wanton waste of valuable species like halibut and crab by draggers in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. Not that there isn't PSC in other fisheries, there is, but the admitted level of wasted resources is unacceptably high in the drag fleet. As halibut abundance continues to fall, Kodiak tanner crab stagger to recover, and king crab stands at the threshold of extinction in the Gulf, PSC wanton waste levels remain intolerable. (Perhaps king crab in Kodiak should undergo endangered species listing...that might be a nuclear option on dragging.) It is outrageous that while fishermen who own halibut IFQ continue to see their resource diminish (catastrophically in 2C), the reported PSC wanton waste remains fixed at 2000 metric tons (4.4 million pounds, $13 million 2009 dollars wasted) in the Gulf. While the draggers brag about all the innovative gear they have developed to avoid halibut PSC wanton waste, they are able to pass it around the drag fleet and use it to pursue even dirtier catches, often impacting crab stocks, which are crushed so badly that the observers (if they are present...not!) see only hints of their remains. If a belly dumper earth scraper rolls over you, you won't survive even if you don't end up in the load, eh, Mike? But if the absent observer doesn't see your remains, you ain't dead, are you?

Halibut researchers are looking all over for what is happening to the halibut in the Gulf. Look no further than the Kodiak drag fleet, whose seldom observed tows hammer on the halibut stocks, winnowing out these incredibly valuable fish, and dumping their lifeless carcasses overboard. If you drag catcher processor the Bering Sea, the death rate for halibut is Federally guaranteed!

"Amendment 80 vessels are currently required to place all of the (drag) net's contents into below deck holding tanks without sorting of any of the catch on deck. This requirement is to ensure that the on-board observers have an opportunity to sample all the fish in the catch...The 'no sorting on deck' requirement results in some of the halibut remaining out of the water for several hours before being returned to the sea. As such, halibut discard mortality rates, which are based on viability assessments done by observers in the processing area, currently average 75% across the typical Amendment 80 fishery targets." Bullshit. No halibut, NO HALIBUT, survives out of the water for hours. The more you read the analyses, the more you realise this stuff is soft soaped by NMFS to promote dragging. Foxes guarding chicken coops? No. Wolves!

The study quoted above (Agenda D-2(c), December 2009) admits that 281 tows resulted in 19,649 halibut caught. "For the factory halibut it took on average 186 minutes to return the last halibut the sea." Three hours? Halibut are tough. But three hours is a guaranteed death sentence. Hyenas!

  1. One hundred percent observer coverage for the Gulf. (The killing off the Gulf can no longer be a right. Crying about low profit margins just doesn't ring true while we watch old boats enlarge and new houses build.)
  2. The 2000 metric ton halibut PSC needs to be based on the historically highest year of halibut abundance. Current PSC wanton waste shall be reduced to current abundance levels of halibut. Eventually the 2000 metric ton PSC limit will be phased back and out as gear conversion occurs.
  3. No trawling on or above ADFG designated 'crab bottom.' So called 'pelagic gear' often is not above the bottom, and crab armour is simply not tough enough to survive the crushing. Mud plumes in Deadman's Bay during 'pelagic pollock dragging' tell the tale. Pilots, get out your cameras. But, hell, there's a lot of king crab, just ask Mark.
  4. Fishing observers need to observe fishing...not processing. Get them on deck, with cameras, to OBSERVE the catch. Public reports need to be available. It is a public resource.

It's cold now and the rocks are slippery, the seas are angry and unkind. What's new? 'We're rough, we're tough, we're coarse, what then? We're the salts of the earth, we're fishermen.' Be safe and warm...I got blubber.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stories of waste and shortsighted behavior...

"The few comments here are no measure of what effect this blog may be having.
There are plenty of us from around the state, who have heard these stories of waste and shortsighted selfish behavior from friends and family from the Kodiak area who stop in here...
That we read and leave says nothing about what we think.
This is important work you are doing.
We do ourselves no favor pretending we are living by pretty words like sustainability and economic development while engaging in altogether different behavior.
Go safe, neighbor, and go well." Anonymous at 4:57

That made my day!

The new counter shows the numbers of and where readers are from...Kodiak, Anchorage, Juneau, Portland, Brockton, Chico, Lake Oswego, Rockport, Harrisonburg, Gainesville, Redmond, and Moulineaux-Haute-Normandie (France). So far. Thanks.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Draggers Dupe Kodiak, Scam NPFMC

In a typical, duplistic (though running scared) tactic after their bald exposure on film as resource ravagers, Kodiak draggers have buried the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in a snow storm of BOGUS letters supporting their bid to remain the biggest and dirtiest players in Gulf of Alaska commercial fishing. A mass hoodwinking took place last week where otherwise intelligent people signed their formerly good names to a trashy piece of transparent propaganda designed to pressure the NPFMC into believing that the Kodiak community is fully behind a dragger takeover of our fisheries. Wake up people! At this December meeting of the NPFMC, Pacific cod sector split is up for final action, and if the Kodiak draggers get their way, they will remain on top with:

  • the highest percentage of cod catch,

  • the highest bycatch (waste) of valuable species,

  • the most egregious waste of Pacific halibut, king, and tanner crab, and

  • the most destruction of the benthic ecosystem for the littlest return per pound of damage of any fishermen in the North Pacific.

On top of that, the statisticians at the NPFMC are "reviewing" their numbers for the 2004 drag season to "adjust" the Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) of halibut (see Filthy Halibut video below) to a lower number so the NPFMC can give draggers those filthy years of cod catch to fatten their purses. This group of some 45 or so vessels and their processor bedfellows can manipulate the NPFMC to do their bidding, and that when some data is not in agreement with their appetites, they get to have the observer data tossed out because it is "not reliable." This is why it is so important that dirty secret pictures of dragger bycatch get outed...the system to manage this element of commercial fishing is undeniably corrupt. It is also why emails went out from (you guess) to all dragger skippers and owners warning them to stop letting crews take pictures!

Remember, every pound of Kodiak dragger smashed cod catch actually means about 17% more than that wasted, not to mention other valuable species wasted like halibut, salmon, and crab. This statistic alone demands that the NPFMC should cut dragger sector split of cod by at least 17%. The option to do so is right there in Component Nine. But they don't have the balls to do it. Every species draggers fish for, with the exception of low value flounders and diminshing pollock could be caught by other gear types which employ more crew and spend more dollars, than this handful of dirty draggers. These dirty draggers should be pushing the NPFMC for gear conversion, if they had ethics. If, if, if...ha! 'To hell with the children, to hell with the future, get it now and get out. Screw Alaska!'

By signing on to the dragger letter, local businesses have thrown in their lot with the drag fleet and turned their back on the larger fleet of potters, longliners, seiners, and jiggers in Kodiak. If I can get my flippers on the list of signatories, I will publish it here. If they don't disclaim their signatures to the NPFMC, then we can work to boycott these stab me in the back, I avoid you in the future, eh? "He works hard for his money and you better treat him right."

Here are the businesses:

  1. Alaska Hyraulics
  2. Sea Wing Services
  3. Samson Tug and Barge
  4. Viva Mexico Imports
  5. DanTrawl Inc.
  6. RipTech
  7. Cost Savers
  8. Northern Welding Repair
  9. Radar Alaska
  10. NET Systems
  11. NC Welding
  12. MIREK Trawl
  13. Island Hydraulics
  14. Kodiak Rental Center
  15. Pacific Diving Services
  16. Quality Marine of Alaska

It should be easy to avoid most of these! The reds are not necessarily trawl dependent.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Risky Behavior: Crab Podding in Trawl Traffic

Photo: Braxton Dew, NMFS (Ret.)

"I thought you might like these slides, which show the obvious connection between red king crab behavior and their vulnerability to draggers. Trawl encounters with red king crab pods might be rare (compared to yellowfin sole, which are more evenly distributed across the bottom), but each encounter would be a relative disaster. Because these high-impact encounters are rare, they can easily slip through holes in observer coverage. Therefore, observer coverage should be 100% to provide meaningful bycatch numbers for highly gregarious, patchily distributed species such as red king crab, bairdi, and opilio."

Photo: Doug Smith, former NMFS observer

"Red king crab bycatch from a single yellowfin sole haul delivered by the domestic trawler Vega to the Soviet processor Chasovoy in late August 1981. This catch and several more like it were taken from a water depth of 55-75 meters off Black Hill, Bristol Bay.

"Of the several thousand dead crab shown here, 80-90% were mature females with egg clutches. Damage to the Bristol Bay brood stock, beginning with the advent of commerical trawling in 1980, quickly eroded the reproductive capacity of the population.

"As was typical of these unexpectedly large catches, none of the red king crab shown here was counted or measured by observers before being dumped. The fact that such catches are omitted from extrapolations to total fleet bycatch mean that observer estimated bycatch numbers are woeful underestimates for the period surrounding the collapse of the Bristol Bay red king crab population.

"After this photo was snapped, such impolitic catches began being dumped at sea, away from the eyes of observers, who were confined to the processors. This photo, along with the knowledge that JV trawling killed off much of the Bristol Bay brood stock, is nearly 30 years old. Anyone who sincerely believes that trawling and crab populations can coexist has a poor grasp of reality. "

Friday, November 20, 2009

Trawler Greed Destroys Halibut Stocks, Robs Other Gear Types Permanently

"In 2004, there was a substantial halibut PSC (prohibited species catch) overage for trawl gear. Despite an aggregate annual PSC limit for shallow and deep water fisheries of 2000 mt of halibut, 2824 mt (6,212,800 pounds) of halibut PSC was taken (read wasted) with trawl gear. Most (1947 mt) of this amount was taken in the shallow water target fisheries." (see Filthy Video of Halibut Waste below)

Read the NMFS report at:

Based upon this information, the trawl fleet in the central Gulf of Alaska, based primarily in Kodiak, destroyed and wasted $18,638,400 dollars worth of halibut (at $3 a pound) in order to harvest $9,021,540 worth of cod (at $.30 a pound). This halibut could have been harvested by longliners and other user groups and utilized...not wantonly wasted. The 5,500 mt of cod ($3,630,000) which the trawlers took in spite of having exceeded their halibut PSC by 824 mt ($5,438,400), would have been part of the cod quota available for harvest by longliners, pot boats, and jig boats. Therefore it was effectively stolen from the other segments of the fleet. Shallow water fisheries are for flounders, collectively called 'flats,' and these are are of marginal economic value but are targeted by the trawlers for the allowable 'incidental' catch of cod and, in deep water, sablefish. Although called 'incidental' by draggers and their apologists, this allowable catch is targeted by draggers fishing low value species to pad out their wallets. Trawler PSC bycatch of halibut and crab in shallow water trawling for flats is a horrific waste of these highly valuable species, to say the least. The current system of management by the NPFMC is broken, disfunctional, and corrupt, (part of the proud Ted Stevens legacy). This is only one small example!

If this weren't bad enough, the trawlers are claiming a permanent right to the spoils of this misuse of the resources by claiming they should be credited directed cod catch and incidental catch in the 'sector split' that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is about to take final action on at its December meeting in Anchorage. The NPFMC has agreed to give way to the trawlers, as they almost always do.

So, while trawling on the flats, wasting halibut and crab, in order to keep and sell cod 'incidental' catch may seem to have only short term benefits to the draggers, being GIFTED that 'incidental' catch in perpetuity through the sector split dodge (read ITQ), has clear long term benefit for these owners, their assigns, and heirs.

Express your outrage to the Council through letters, emails, phone calls, or best yet, show up and testify at the meeting in Anchorage. All members of the NPFMC are listed on their website at:

The trawler industry is counting on your non-participation in order to have their way with your resources. So far they are getting all they want. You only have everything to lose.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Up to $5000 paid for photos or
videos of trawler bycatch of
halibut, crab, or salmon.
respond to:
Kodiak Daily Mirror
1419 Selig St.
Kodiak, AK 99615
Blind Box Q
...As posted in tonight's Daily Mirror.
Hey what about pics of my brethren shot or drowned in tows? Come on! Wonder if they will accept donations at this same blind box.
Keep yer flippers wet!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Filthy Video of Halibut Waste

Between the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, at least 5300 metric tons of halibut get legally wasted by draggers. This is sanctified by law. It is legally okay to waste 5300 metric tons of halibut so draggers can try to make a payday. Is this sensible? 5300 metric tons is too big to imagine...roughly 11.7 million pounds of halibut, baby...even at $4.00 a pound exvessel...$46,640,000 dollars. Forty-six million dollars get wasted so draggers can pursue their dirty fishing. Hmmm... Forty-six million is a lot of change, enough to sway votes, buy patronage, elect a senator, or congressman and then some! This is only what is observable...and we know (by their own admission and that of the NPFMC) that observations of bycatch are notoriously poor...the draggers cheat and observers only see a fraction of the real damage to our ocean resources. So let's follow a line of reasoning here in regard to trawler by-catch. If in the Gulf of Alaska only 30% of trawling is observed, and if (and we know this to be true) trawlers only take their observers to the cleanest spots for observation on minimal trips, then it follows that tows like this dirty one for flatfish, which looks like it has far more halibut than flatfish, occur with greater frequency (70% of the time?) and the actual waste of halibut in the Gulf is perhaps two, three, four times higher than NMFS projects. Is this the reason we are seeing a decline in the Gulf stocks of halibut? Halibut fishermen are reporting a marked decline in halibut catchability, if not in abundance. How could they not be declining if this kind of waste is not taken into account? Everywhere else in the world, trawling has resulted in the marked decline in fisheries. Will we continue to let this happen here? For the short term gains of a few?

This is a big video, over five minutes, so please be patient. My connection is too slow to see this video without lots of stop action while it plays off the 'net and apparently it doesn't load onto my machine, like a YouTube would. So get a cup of coffee, or something stronger, while this's worth it. This is the meaning of fishery porn. The best of the worst. By they way, recognize the deck layout? Hmmm. Does NMFS enforcement recognize it? Was this by-catch properly logged? What is the statute of limitations on false reporting?
As an aside, misguided charter operators want to fight with IFQ permit holders over a pittance of the harvestable halibut quota but stubbornly continue to ignore the 5675 metric tons legally wasted by the drag fleet. All commercial fishermen are not the same. Some are good and some are bad. Some fish clean and some fish dirty. Not all of us want to destroy the fish and ocean environment we depend upon. Spread the word. The 5675 metric tons of halibut for drag waste should not be sacred, not now, not ever. If you can, download this video (I have been unable to capture it off the blog) and share so it doesn't disappear when the pressure on this blogoshere comes from our friends and neighbors who would rather destroy our world than change their way of doing business. Let's be real...Liberty is a cash and carry corporate commodity afterall. Truth is not.
Send to your politico. Share, share, share.
Keep yer flippers wet.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Tragedy of Privatization

Two excellent articles on economics affecting privatization of resources below are worthy of a careful read and further research by all of us who mouth support for freedom, fisheries, and future.

From Wikipedia:
"The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Ostrom's 'research brough this topic from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention,' "by showing how common resources-forests, FISHERIES, oil fields, or grazing lands, can be managed successfully by the people who use them, rather than by governments or private companies." Ostrom's work in this regard, challenged conventional wisdom, showing that common resources can be successfully managed without privatization or government regulation."

"Conservatives used the tragedy of the commons to argue for property rights, and efficiency was achieved as people were thrown off the commons," said Joseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia University, a Nobel laureate in economics himself. "But the effects of throwing a lot of people out of their livelihood were enormous. What Ostrom has demonstrated is the existence of social control mechanisms that regulate the use of commons without having to resort to property rights."

Right now the NPFMC is moving full steam ahead to privatize the remaining fisheries in the North Pacific Ocean, under pressure of the draggers, some larger fixed gear entities, and the processors. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we could get Lubchenko and the new NMFS chief to stop the steam roller for a moment and see that by throwing our fisheries to the big corporate interests is not in the best interest of the people of the State of Alaska, or the health of the Ocean herself, they might rethink the management options. Little hope remains that the NPFMC will do anything unless their feet are put in fire. Anyone have a match?

Keep yer flippers wet.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So now the argument is arising (Bob Krueger on KMXT) that the pictures posted on this site and other places are not identified because they are not really of tanners scooped up by a Kodiak trawler, but of an ADF&G survey vessel's deck shot. Not! The reason is to protect the informants, the photographers, from reparations, i.e., REVENGE. Besides it would be best if the draggers policed their own and exposed these ugly guys for the rogues that they are...enemies of the people and all that. Too much to expect?

I asked somebody why the landlord of the vessel(s) in question don't get rid of the dirty skipper, and the answer came back...'They make him too much money.' So if there is a GOOD, that's it. This rogue makes his handler too much money. The BAD is this vessel is operated without any conscience at all for the health of the ocean in general, health of the resource in particular, and the future of everyone of us who depends on the bounty of Kodiak's ocean resources to provide us with the life that we all love. The UGLY is the barrage of lies and deceptions which have become second nature to some people in order to protect their incomes while eroding our precious resources. UGLY is the fact that they do not appear to recognize their own lies. UGLY is the totes of halibut ping pong paddles I saw at the cannery; at the codends of spilled yelloweyes; the waste of the incredible numbers of king salmon. UGLY too is the foot dragging of our managers and protection people who, I have learned, know perfectly well what is going on and turn away from it. 'No hard evidence.' 'Unsubstantiated rumor.' Et cetera.

Could the stories we hear be only about one or two of these draggers? Selling cod bycatch to jig boats? Sixteen hours to clean up a haul of tanners in the Sand Box? Dumping a codend of small halibut in Marmot this summer? Dumping a codend and deck load of flats in front of APS this month? Where the hell is enforcement? Where the hell are the 'good guy' draggers who could pressure for this guy to STOP? Hmmm...they must be dirty too...the only possible conclusion.

I am not convinced draggers can fish clean. But I do know that I won't ever be convinced unless they stop swimming in the same UGLY school as the dirty ones.

Keep yer flippers wet.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Observer Shell Game

Note the trawler chaffing gear entangling this Tanner crab. This was a common catch clue in 2009.

Tanner crab dumped overboard from our favorite dirty dragger. Unobserved drags such as this are potentially occuring on the 70% of unobserved drags taking place in the central Gulf. Why else go through the efforts to hide catches by using the 'shell game' currently utilized by Kodiak draggers?

Wholesale waste of Kodiak Tanner crab from a local dragger, more than your whole Tanner season!

From the Federal Register /Volume 74/Number 188...

"While many vessels operate with an observer as they would without an observer, NMFS suspects that others intentionally alter their fishing pattern to meet minimum observer coverage requirements. Often, these fishing events are not representative of normal fishing duration, location, and depth, and catch composition may vary significantly from that associated with the vessel’s normal, legitimate fishing pattern. These non-representative events bias the observer information NMFS relies on for effective management of the groundfish fisheries.

"NMFS’ Office of Law Enforcement has also documented instances in which vessel operators intentionally structure fishing activities to fish unobserved until late in the day, pick up an observer and make a short tow prior to midnight, make one more tow immediately after midnight, and then return the observer to port. Additional fishing activities then occur during the remainder of the second day, during which the observer is not onboard. Under the current regulations, this scenario counts for two ‘‘observer’’ days and may result in biased observer data."

Ya think? This is a well used common dragger ruse. Biased data indeed!

"To reduce the potential for biasing observer data, the proposed rule would revise the definition of ‘‘fishing day’’ at § 679.2 to be a 24-hour period, from 1201 hours A.l.t. through 1200 hours A.l.t., in which fishing gear is retrieved and groundfish are retained. It will require that an observer be on board for all gear retrievals during the 24-hour period in order to count as a day of observer coverage. Days during which a vessel only delivers unsorted codends to a processor will not be considered fishing days, as is currently the case. This revision would reduce the cost effectiveness of making a fishing trip solely to manipulate observer coverage requirements. Revising the definition of the 24-hour period from the current midnight-to-midnight definition (from 0001 hours through 2400 hours Alaska local time) to a noon to noon definition (1201 hours through 1200 hours Alaska local time) is intended to discourage vessels from making sets or tows solely for the purpose of obtaining observer coverage around the transitional hours from one fishing day to the next."

Too little, too late.

I guess, NMFS is sobering up, or at least throwing crumbs to us who have complained for years about the corrupt way trawlers in the Gulf have switched out their observers to escape being caught with their proverbial 'knickers down.' The gripe is, that in paragraph two, NMFS enforcement admits to knowing about cheating, yet they do nothing. The best that can happen is that the clean guys, if there are such, need to stop stonewalling with the dirty guys and speak up for the truth about the bycatch and wanton waste of our ocean resources. Or better yet just negotiate out of trawling into a cleaner gear type. Gear conversion, baby. The North Pacific Ocean is the last bastion of dirty fishing. It has to go. Come clean.